Sorry, no View From Section U column tonight. At least nothing original. I’m going to use the evening to get a jump of the weekend preview as well as try to get to some other stuff I’ve ignored. But I figured I may as well dust off something from the archives for new FTT readers. I’m sure there are probably some new students and fans that have found their way to the blog since the restart who may be asking themselves, “What’s the deal with the triangles and why should we be afraid of them?” I’d like to say that the blog’s name is based on my own interpretation of a can’t miss triangle offense which I took years developing. But, I’ve never played hockey and don’t have a great knowledge of the Xs and Os, so that’s not it.
It has to do with those wonderful jerseys that were ranked higher, at least in this list, than any team that wore them. So I’ll take this opportunity to bring the myth and magic of the triangle to those who have only recently become UMass fans. It’s also timely since the subject of triangles came up during this past weekend’s radio broadcast, with play-by-play announcer John Hennessy even mentioning a phobia of everyone’s favorite geometric shape (your check is in the mail, John). So here’s what I wrote about the infamous beloved triangle back in 2010 when the team was going through some trying times:
In the tradition of Paul Revere, Billy Dawes, and Samuel Prescott, I am officially alerting the Minuteman militias. “The Triangles are coming! The Triangles are coming!”
I’m sure many people have started reading the Fear The Triangle blog in the past year without really knowing what the phrase even means. Well I guess it’s time to fill you in. The triangle of course refers to the old pennant jerseys introduced by former coach Joe Mallen when the program was resurrected in 1993. That year also marked my first year at UMass and when I first started following the team. Many of the friends whom I watch the game with started following the team around the same time or a few years later, but we all remember those Mallen years vividly. Or should I say we all remember those years, unfortunately. That was some pretty bad hockey bad then. Not only did UMass lose regularly, they lost in epic fashion at times. It wasn’t easy being a UMass fan back then, but we had fun and stuck with the team anyway. Flash forward to 2006. The team had long since abandoned its triangle jerseys and somewhat abandoned it’s losing ways. Kinda. The 2006-2007 squad got out to a good start with a 6-1-1 record. But then it all came apart. The team proceeded to go 2-6-2 over the next 10 games, with the last being a 2-1 loss at, of all places, Lawler Arena at Merrimack. Seeing UMass basically undo all they had accomplished earlier and reverting back to the form of the Mallen years, I had a desperate idea. If the team was going to play like the team of old that wore triangles, then we were going to play the part as fans. A call was put out to the hardcore group of fans; it was triangle time. Our newish block logo UMass jerseys were put away and the old 90’s era jerseys were taken out of mothballs and worn to the very next game. What do you know, a 4-2 win at home over Merrimack. Well that was pretty cool, so we had to wear them again right? UMass plastered Lowell 5-1. In fact UMass would go 5-1-1 over the next 7 games. The season was back on track and amazingly enough at end of it all UMass had its first NCAA berth and first tournament win. In subsequent years, in trying times when the prospects of the season look dire and the team looked downright horrid, the triangles were brought out and for the most part the team would enjoy some success.
Some teams have rally hats. Some have rally towels. Hell, some even have rally monkeys. UMass, for whatever reason, has rally triangles.
Well, losers of 6 of 7 and being dominated by a 9th place Merrimack team by the score of 4-1 sure sounds like a triangle-clad team to me! Therefore the gauntlet is being thrown down. If you have a triangle buried somewhere in your closet or know someone who does, make sure to locate it and don it tonight. At best whatever magic it contains may just help the team get out of its funk. At worst, we’ll all be dressed appropriately for the level of play on the ice before us. Who knows. Maybe the team will in fact win. Maybe they’ll go on a little run. Maybe they secure a place in home ice and the pairwise to end the season. Maybe UMass opponents will know what it means to fear the triangle.
The Collegian has this article on the performance of Patrick Lee, Jake Horton, and Keith Burchett so far on the season.
Troubling news on the coming seismic shift to college sports with the news that Texas will be paying each of their student-athletes $10,000 a year in the future. Not just the athletes in their revenue driving sports, but all athletes. It ends up being $6 million a year. The entire UMass budget is a little less than $30 million, so this is obviously something UMass and a good portion of DI schools would not be able to match. How UMass chooses to address the disparity, especially in football and men’s basketball, and how that would affect hockey remains to be seen. I think a more immediate concern is if schools that currently play DI hockey choose to pay college hockey players something similar. Certainly the Big Ten schools, Notre Dame, and potential Boston College could start offering their athletes considerable sums to play there, which puts everyone else at a huge disadvantage. We’ll see how things continue to shake out. But I think college sports as we’ve grown accustomed to is going to be a thing of the past.